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Long and short?

4. Long and short?

Lali is selling things at her father's shop. A farmer comes to buy rope.

So, the farmer measures his arm with the rope and Lali gives him 7 times that much rope. Measure your arm and your mother's arm. What is the difference?

Children should be encouraged to look around and see how lengths of different things are measured in different ways using local or non-standard units. For example, rope, garlands or cloth may be sold by the cubit, handspan, fingers, etc. They also need to do activities of measuring lengths (and distances) with their own body parts.

How Many?

  • In how many steps will Dorji cross the road?

  • How many cups can be placed in a line on this table?

  • How many pots can be placed to reach the tree branch?

  • How many shirts can be hung on this wire?

How Much is a Centimetre (cm)?

The matchstick is 4 centimetres long.

The die is 1 centimetre from every side.

The lizard is 13 centimetres long.

The leaf is centimetres long.

The wax colour is centimetres long.

Now, look at a scale that you find in a geometry box. How many centimetres does it have?


The small scale that you mostly use in school is like this one.

Is it easier to start measuring from the 0 mark? Look at the things drawn near the scale and find out their lengths.

  • What are the little lines on the scale used for?

  • Look for things that are

    • About 10 centimetres long

    • Between 10 and 20 centimetres long

    • Less than 1 cm long.

  • Draw some of them here.

How Big is My Hand?

Measure the length of your thumb and your little finger. Use the scale on this page. Which is longer? Thumb or little finger? Bring a measuring-tape to your class.

Guess the length of different parts of your body and check if your guess is correct. You can use a scale, string, measuring tape etc.


How will you know the number of centimeters if you measure with a rope, shoe-string, thread etc.?

My Measurements

My Friend's Measurements




Around the wrist



Around the head






Hand(tip of middle finger to wrist)



Compare your measurement with your friends'.

  • Who has the biggest head and who has the smallest head?----------,-----------

  • Who has the longest hand (from middle finger to wrist)?----------

  • Is any of your nails more than 1 centimetre long?--------.

Gibli and the Grains

Ant Gibli has to reach the grains. She is looking for the shortest road. Can you tell her which is the shortest?

Can you draw a road shorter than these? What is the length of that road?----------

It is more important for children to be able to get an estimate of a meter as related to known centimeters, etc. Children at this stage may not be able to perceive of bigger units such as a kilometer. They must be encouraged to speak of a kilometer in the context of a story or narrative. The Map of Agra is an exercise with a narrative involving children, with familiar images (icons) to help the initial understanding of mapping in 2 dimensions.

How Long is a Metre?

A meter is equal to 100 centimeters.

Let Us Make a Metre-rope

You must have seen shopkeepers measuring cloth with a metre rod.

  • Use a meter rod and a rope.

  • Make a knot at one end of the rope.

  • Keep the meter rod with the rope.

  • Mark 1 meter on the rope and make a knot there.

  • Now the length between the two knots is 1 meter. This is your meter-rope.

If you don't get a meter rod use a measuring-tape and mark 100 centimeters on the rope. 100 centimeters are equal to a meter, so you get the meter-rope.

Guess and check

  • Find some things that look 1 meter long.

  • Use your meter-rope to find which of these things are more or less than 1 meter.

  • Name of the thing

    More than 1 meter

    Less than 1 meter

    Length of table



    Width of table



    Width of door



    Length of door










Some Class III children have marked a 1 meter height on the wall of their class.
You can also mark 1 meter on your class wall.

Now make a chart of the heights of your friends.
To measure the centimeters, you can use your small scale.


Taller/Shorter/Equal to 1 meter

How many centimeters more or less than a meter



4 centimeters













Centimeters or Meters?

Which of these will be in centimeters and which will be in meters?

  • Width of a computer screen

  • Length of a Pagdi worn by Sikhs

  • Height of a 1-year old child

  • Length of a banana

  • Waist of an elephant

  • Height of a sugarcane

  • Depth of a well

  • Height of your mother

  • Distance from school to home

  • Length of your father's arm.

Trip to Agra

Marie and Baichung are going with their family to Agra. They get down at Agra Cantt. Railway Station and take a rickshaw to Taj Mahal. After 3 hours, they start for Agra Fort, again in a rickshaw. In the afternoon they take a bus to go to Fatehpur Sikri.

Now look at the distances between these places (for kilometers we write km).

  • Agra Cantt. Railway Station to Taj Mahal – 5 km

  • Taj Mahal to Agra Fort – 2 km

  • Agra Fort to Fatehpur Sikri – 40 km

Now find from the map

  • Which is farther from Agra Cantt. Railway Station — Taj Mahal or Fatehpur Sikri?

shows the railway line

Which of these is nearer to the railway line:

  • Babarpur forest or Taj forest?

  • Agra Fort or Taj Mahal?

Which is closer to the river Yamuna:

  • Taj Mahal or the Railway Station?

Match the Correct Length

2 kilometers

5 meters

10 centimeters

1 centimeter

1 meter

The Long Tail Competition

The animals in this picture had a competition. The animal who had the longest tail won a prize. Now who do you think won the first prize and who won the second....? Just guess the length of the longest tail.

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